(my Sleight review)
Danny has graciously asked me to share my thoughts on life after Sleight, the people I’ve met, things that have happened to me as a result of publication, and if I am still happy that I self-published. Great questions – I will do my best to provide great answers!Wow…where to start…publishing a book is like having a kid or getting married or starting an awesome job. You don’t really remember what life was like before the book/kid/marriage/job, only that you really like things the way they are after. That doesn’t mean every single day is filled with perfect sentences, ice cream parties, and romance—in fact, for me, it’s an on-again/off-again process. I will have one good day with a whack of sales and some good reviews, followed by one “meh” day of no sales and a few less-than-stellar reviews that make me rethink my reason for living. (Husband tracks these days and knows what to expect before he walks in the door from work…poor fella.) I do remember that before The Book, every day was filled with writing and rewriting and editing and nail-biting and obsessive email checking and wondering what the future would bring and questioning if I’d wasted all this time for nothing, waiting to see if someone would finally say YES, whereas every day after has been filled with education, about marketing, connecting with other people, learning market trends and watching what other folks are doing. I’ve spent loads of time on Facebook and Twitter, writing for blogs and answering emails—between you and me, schilling my own product, or any product for that matter, ain’t one of my strong suits. But I’m learning. This is sink-or-swim time. No one will ever love my book as much as I do, except maybe Danny, so I have to either shove it into readers’ faces myself or find obsessive bloggers/fans to do it for me.I vote we call all the days before March 2011 by the term “LBB,” or Life Before Book. For Jenn Sommersby, LBB looked a little like this: Sleight had been written it and edited and shined up all nice and purty; I’d queried a bunch of agents (some of whom wanted a sample of the manuscript, others who wanted the whole thing); I waited on pins and needles for said agents and then for one major publisher to make their respective decisions (which took months off my life). And when it became apparent that no one wanted Sleight, I got depressed. Very, very depressed. Like, hide-under-the-covers-and-forsake-all-food depressed.And then came Kindle.The availability of digital publishing technology has, as you likely know, revolutionized the way people are enjoying literature. It certainly opened doors for me that I thought were closed forever. From the depths of despair, I saw a flicker of light, like a mouse lighting a match. There existed the possibility that my manuscript wouldn’t die a lonely, uncelebrated death on the basement bookshelf. Many writers over the last few years have made this same discovery, all with different results and experiences. For me, it’s been positive. It has truly been life changing.So then we come to the after part, henceforth known as LAB, or Life After Book: I’ve sold and/or sent out books to people all over the world—the UK, Germany, Guatemala, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Ireland, Israel, and of course, throughout Canada. I have hundreds of new friends online, some of whom have become trusted confidantes and partners-in-crime. I have heard from dozens of people who have read my book and loved it, which is a total rush. A review published in May that cross-posted to the Twilight Saga Facebook page, and tens of thousands of people were exposed to Sleight’s face. The book is hitting Top Rated lists in the Kindle store in huge categories (Love & Romance and Science Fiction & Mystery). No, I haven’t sold a million copies. No, I am so not rich (quite the opposite, in fact); I do not have a staff or a publicist; books sent to bloggers are gifts from me, not from my publishing house; and the paparazzi isn’t following me to my son’s soccer practices. But I’ve sold enough books that my orbit has widened considerably. I have a ton of new friends and the beginnings of a killer fan base. The first draft of Book 2 (Stratagem) is almost finished and is looking at an October-November release date. And there are more exciting potential happenings in the hopper, but because I’m superstitious, I can’t tell you about those. Yet.Given the sudden and impressive expansion in this Sphere of Sweet Sugary Goodness, the LAB discussion must include a shout-out to all the phenomenal people I’ve met—book bloggers are an incredible group who I can rely on not only for pimping of my own book but for great must-read recommendations. In particular, I have to mention a few of my European blogger friends (Stacey of Pretty Books, Caitlin of The Cait Files, and, of course, Miss Danny), who bravely informed me, directly and via reviews, that my original cover wasn’t doing its job. One morning back in April, Danny sent me an email and asked very gently if I’d mind taking a look at something. She’d done a mock-up of a potential new cover for Sleight, and I was smitten. We spent the next three days combing stock photography sites (thanks to Angeline Kace for finding the image we ended up using!) and playing with fonts and layouts, until I finalized the design the way it is now and oh, wow, what a response it has had. I’ve seen tons of comments on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter from people who said they were instantly attracted to the book because of her new, eye-catching cover. Such fantastic feedback—send your thanks to Danny ’cuz she’s the rock star, man, let me tell ya.And, OMG, the readers. When the first reviews started to trickle in and were positive, I cried a little. When I received my first fan email in May, and I sort of cried a little again (and then I forwarded it to my mom, who promptly printed it for my Baby Book). The terror I’d experienced when hitting “publish” went from taking up the entire room to occupying a much smaller space in my non-walk-in closet. It’s still definitely there, gnawing on my shoes and eating lint balls, and it pokes its head out and tries to cough some green, putrid air in my direction when a new review posts, but I am not frozen by that fear anymore. Why? Because enough of you like my book. I can keep breathing, I can keep sneaking out of the house at night to sit in the car and sip on peppermint tea and put words in characters’ mouths and thoughts in their heads, because I now have proof that I did not waste those months and months of my life.I was thinking earlier today, as I drove one of my children to yet another playdate, about the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Writing a book is, without doubt, a journey—the physical act of writing, in which I use my favorite pen on a blank sheet of paper in some quiet space, usually with some Oreos along for the ride, is the best part of the journey for me. The whole process, from idea to research to the first pages to the last sentence written, is an amazing gestation, an incubation of thought to tangible product that can be shared with humanity.I’m paused at a destination point right now, but there is more journey to come. I promise.
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